Many people hear the words ‘compression socks’ and immediately think, “I’m too young for those!” What they don’t realize is, no matter your age or activity level, compression socks can provide immense benefits to many people. To understand how compression socks can help you, it is important to know how circulation affects your legs.
Your circulation and why compression therapy works
Your heart constantly pumps blood through your arteries. These vessels act like a hose, carrying blood at high pressure to your entire body and providing cells with oxygen and other necessities.
This, of course, includes the arteries and vessels in your legs, as well. Unfortunately, getting blood, lymph and other fluids out of your lower limbs is a bit more difficult.
Your veins and lymphatic system are not pressurized, meaning they have to work against gravity to move fluid back up your legs. Your calf and leg muscle usually do this, but they don’t always work efficiently enough to prevent blood from pooling in the feet, causing that dreaded ‘heavy leg’ feeling.
Compression socks assist in circulation by helping push blood and fluids out of your legs. They create a ‘pressure gradient’ by fitting snugly around the ankle and tapering off in pressure towards the top of the sock. This creates better venous pressure, and prevents swelling and increased fatigue after a long day of work or activity.
If any of these following situations sound familiar to you, compression socks could help you greatly!
1. You sit all day at work
Some refer to the calf muscle as the second heart. This is because the calf acts as a steady pump during movement and pressurizes veins in the lower leg, allowing blood to flow back to your heart. If you sit at a desk all day, these muscles are doing very little and can cause blood to pool in the lower legs.
2. You stand for long periods of time
Walking encourages more blood flow by using the calf as a muscle pump for your veins, but standing in one position will greatly reduce the effectiveness of this system. This is why trades workers, retail employees and hospitality staff are all great candidates for using compression socks! Your legs will feel less fatigued and have more energy when your shift is done.
3. You exercise
Realistically, wearing compression socks probably isn’t going to shave minutes off your half-marathon time or get you to squat that extra 20 pounds. What compression can help with is post-exercise recovery and reducing soreness. Studies have demonstrated that wearing compression socks during exercise and recovery can lessen muscle soreness in the legs.
4. You travel
Remember earlier when we explained how sitting for long hours can cause blood to pool in your legs?
Travelling far distances on an airplane can have the same effect. Prolonged sitting while flying increases your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis – or blood clots. Using compression therapy is a great tool to prevent this. As well, it will help keep your legs feeling fresh when you finally arrive at your destination!
5. You like cool socks!
From business casual to fashionable or athletic, both medical and off-the-shelf socks come in a variety of materials and styles. Whether you need something sharp for work or enjoy the ‘athleisure’ aesthetic, compression socks will look as good as they feel!
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